Eating broccoli or drinking broccoli juice can filter out the toxic substances in polluted air.
Food based websites often post about the health benefits of a range of vegetables. Broccoli is one of the vegetables which gets reported on on a recurring basis. As recently as early April 2021, many social media users claim that broccoli can fight air pollution toxins.
Misbar’s investigation has discovered that Food.news and other previous articles claim that broccoli fights air pollution based on a 2014 study. This study appeared in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. This journal is a high quality publication that requires its research articles to be robust.
The 2014 study took place with 291 study participants in China. These participants were often exposed to high levels of air pollution in their daily lives. This study analyzed the participants’ urine for the excretion of pollution, with some participants being given a broccoli sprout derived beverage and others being given a placebo.
The study discovered that those drinking the broccoli-sprout beverage all excreted more benzene and acrolein in their urine but not more crotonaldehyde compared to the placebo group.
The Food.news article neglects to mention that this 2014 study found no significant extra urinary excretion of crotonaldehyde in the participants. Instead, the study states that certain participants in the broccoli sprout beverage group excreted less crotonaldehyde in their urine than the placebo group, while others excreted more than the placebo group. This is in contrast to the benzene and acrolein, which were consistently excreted at higher levels in the urine of the broccoli-sprout beverage group compared to the placebo group. Overall, when compared together, the broccoli sprout group saw a 2% increase in the urinary excretion of crotonaldehyde compared to the placebo group. But this was significantly lower than the overall increases in the excretions of benzene and acrolein, which were 54.7% and 21.7% respectively. This resulted in the study concluding that broccoli sprouts do not increase the excretion of crotonaldehyde in humans, as the increase compared to the placebo group was minimal.
Our analysis could not find any other study that links broccoli to the excretion of crotonaldehyde. This means that it appears accurate to say that broccoli can combat the toxins in some air pollution, but it is misleading to imply that it can combat all of the toxins in air pollution.